The mucosal barrier is the body’s first line of defense and comprises approximately 80% of your immune system. If damaged, it can seriously compromise your health in a number of ways. The mucosal barrier contains the core elements of the digestive system, including the villi and micro villi, which are responsible for nutrient absorption as well as for the release of digestive enzymes in the small intestine.
If your intestinal mucosal barrier is damaged, your digestive system and possibly your immune system are compromised!
What Can Damage Your Intestinal Mucosal Barrier?
A damaged gut mucosa can be caused by numerous factors, such as:
- Chronic infections
- Food allergies & sensitivities
- Low stomach acid which can cause infections
Chronic parasitic and bacterial infections can destroy immune function in the gut. Food allergies and sensitivities can bring about a cascade of health issues due to the fact that these antigens will invoke inflammatory responses in the gut. Also, if a person has chronically low stomach acid, there is an increased risk of infection. This is because of the fact that hydrochloric acid’s primary responsibility is to sterilize your food.
Test Your Mucosal Barrier Strength
The most accurate way to test the strength of your mucosal barrier is through a saliva test which tests for immunoglobulins. Another method is through an HCL challenge test. A hydrochloric acid challenge involves taking 4-6 500 mg capsules of Betaine HCL somewhere in the middle of your meal.
If this low of a dose of HCL produces a burning, your mucosal barrier is likely compromised. If no burning occurs, then you likely have a decent to a strong mucosal barrier.
If your mucosal barrier IS compromised, this needs to be taken very seriously, and the primary reasons for its damage must be addressed. If your gut mucosa is damaged, a specific gut repair protocol needs to be initiated, and the underlying cause of damage must be simultaneously discovered.
If your mucsoa is damaged, then I recommend a food sensitivity test, as well as a stool antigen screen. As mentioned earlier, food sensitivities can produce some devastating effects on gut function. A stool antigen test will also identify underlying bacterial and parasitic infections.
If 4-6 capsules produce burning DO NOT TAKE ANY supplemental hydrochloric acid until gut permeability is resolved. This is because HCL supplementation with damaged mucosa will produce further breakdown of the mucosal barrier. This is why restoring the gut mucosa and eliminating any precipitating infections is critical and of primary concern!